Susan Hirsch Wohl: Building a Legacy

Susan Hirsch Wohl Jewish Community Foundation Donor for Legacy magazine

Giving back comes naturally to Susan Hirsch Wohl. Growing up in a house with parents who emphasized the importance of tzedakah, Susan was always mindful of how she could contribute to help people in need.

“My mom [Nita] was a Holocaust survivor, and she believed strongly in charitable giving because she was so grateful to be in the United States. My dad [Bob] came from an observant family, and tzedakah was woven into the fabric of his life. So for them, it was second nature,” Susan recalls. “They couldn’t afford much in the early years, but they always gave something.”

Over time, Bob’s real estate business thrived, and he became a major benefactor of the Los Angeles Jewish Home. Eventually, in 1986, he set up the Robert and Anita Hirsch Family Foundation Fund at The Foundation, a vehicle that has allowed his daughter to build a philanthropic legacy for the entire family.

Today, under Susan’s direction, the Hirsch Family Fund works to advance Jewish education, medical research, and a host of other causes. “My mom died of Alzheimer’s disease, and I’m very interested in neurological research. She was a fantastic cook, and my older son, Matt, went to culinary school, so issues related to food are also high on my list,” she says. “Overall, I feel a strong pull toward LA-based organizations and Jewish groups.”

As she identifies new opportunities for family giving, Susan is also focused on inculcating a commitment to tzedakah in her two boys. “I require Matt and his brother, Linden, to give a certain percentage of their bank accounts every year,” she notes, “and my will states that five percent of any money they inherit must go to charity. They know it’s a major priority of mine and that their future includes giving – hopefully to Jewish causes.”

From Susan’s perspective, The Foundation is an ideal way to make philanthropy a family affair, bringing her sons, her husband Alan, and her stepdaughter Larissa together around issues of mutual concern. “The Foundation is a great partner, with fantastic educational resources for kids and adults,” she says. “With their assistance, my family is learning how we can implement our own vision of what giving back should look like.”

The Foundation is also stewarding Susan’s charitable assets to help them grow. “Our fund is getting bigger and able to do lots of good things,” she says. “I’m very grateful.”

My mom died of Alzheimer’s disease, and I’m very interested in neurological research.

This article was featured in The Foundation’s Spring 2020 Legacy: Women and Philanthropy.